Did you know that
orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals? They live in only
two places in the world in southeast Asia. Orangutans are
disappearing from the world because people are cutting down the
trees in the tropical rainforests where they live. Ten years
ago there were about 40,000 orangutans alive in the wild.
Today there are only 20,000!
Orangutans have no spoken
language. Ape vocal chords
canít make words like people, but they can learn sign language.
orangutan can make 13 to 15 different types of
have the same senses as humans do, including hearing. Male orangs
have a sac hanging from their throat that helps them make loud
sounds. The orangutans use this sac to make a call known as a long call;
it is made up of different calls after a
bellow. It is used to
call females, claim their territory, and to keep out other males.
The loud call is important because it is hard for orangs to
see other orangs since they spend their time in trees.
Orangs use facial expressions to show their emotions.
They also use body language.
When an orangutan feels threatened he grunts, breaks
branches, and shakes trees. Monkeys have many more warning calls and
vocalizations than orangs because unlike monkeys, orangs spend a lot
of time alone and have few predators.
Orangs remove dead skin
and parasites from one
another. This will
strengthen social bonds. This
occurs between a mother and her offspring.
Visual communication is the most important kind of
communication for orangutans. They use a lot of different behaviors to
communicate. Within small groups, orangs communicate with lip
smacking. They scream when theyíre scared, and males grind their
teeth when frustrated. Usually
when orangs are smiling, they are showing fear or aggression.
When an orangutan is in pain, it closes its eyes and puts its
arms behind its head. Orangs
use different behaviors when they are feeling anti-social.
Like waving their arms and throwing sticks.
Orangs yawn like people, but they donít do it when theyíre
tired; instead, they do it when they are embarrassed or frustrated.
Baby orangs show that they want food by holding their hand
out. They cup their hand under their
momís chin. Orangs
use their eyes to communicate, but donít seem to use staring to
communicate (chimps and gorillas do).
Young orangs beg for food by looking back and forth between
their momís eyes and the piece of food.
Some projects have been done to teach orangs how to use
sign language. They
seem to learn new signs even a little bit faster than chimpanzees. They are also able to use different signs together in new
An adult male orang weighs 150
to 200 lbs.
Adult females weigh about
one half as much as a male does.
The orangs face, ears, palms, and soles of their feet are hairless.
Orangs have bluish-black skin covered by reddish- brown hair.
Orangutans have a good sense of hearing and excellent
color vision. Orangs are
2/3 the size of gorillas. The
orang has a large head with a prominent face area.
An adult male has large cheek flaps that get larger as the orangutan gets older.
Orangs have sharp teeth in front for tearing food and
molars in in the back for chewing.
Orangs have white around their irises like people (most
animals do not). The orangs
eyes, hands, teeth, ears, and feet are similar to people.
A male orangutan is
four times stronger than a man is.
two subspecies of orangutan. One
lives in Borneo, and the other lives in Sumatra. Borneo and Sumatra
are tropical islands Orangutans are hard to study because they are almost always
hidden in trees in the dense rain forest. Orangs are arboreal, which
means that they live mostly in trees. They live only in forests,
including primary rainforests, swamp forests and montane forests.
orangutan habitat has been lost due to logging and farming. This is the
biggest danger that orangs face. Loss of habitat is the reason why they
are an endangered species.
Most males claim a territory of about
two miles. Once
male orangs grow very large, they spend more time on the ground because
they are too heavy to hang in the trees. Otherwise orangutans seldom
come down from the trees.
Orangs are omnivores but are mostly
herbivores (animals that only eat plants).
Omnivore means that they eat both plants and animals. Sometimes orangutans are described as frugivores, which means
that they really like to eat fruit. They eat figs, plums, lichees,
wadans, mangos, rambutans, and durians which can weigh 30 lbs.
eat many other foods. They eat leaves, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender
plant shoots, and flowers. Sometimes they eat insects, birds and small
mammals. Their favorite
insects to eat are termites and ants.
The orang puts a stick in a termite nest, and then lets the
termites run up the stick. Then
they eat the termites. They drink water collected between tree branches.
Orangutans can live
40 years or more in the wild.
Most orangs are 4-5 feet long.
Female orangutans are pregnant for 8.5 to 9 months.
Females start having babies at 12 years old.
The gestation period for an orangutan is 227 to 275 days.|
The mother raises her baby by herself.
The baby nurses for about four years.
They have a baby every 7-9 years.
Almost one half of all babies die in the wild.
At birth, babies weigh 2.5 to 3.5 lbs.
A female orang hangs from a tree branch and shows her pernuem to
the male to solicit a mating from the male. The males often fight each
other over the female.
Other Interesting Facts |
- Orangutan is pronounced
- Did you know that orangutans from Sumatra are brighter
in color than the ones from Borneo?
- The orang has 4 hands because its toes are just as nimble as its
- Orangutan actually
means ďperson of the forest.Ē
to 25,000 orangutans live in the wild.
- 96.7% of
orangs genes are the same as humans genes.
- Orangs are the largest tree- dwelling animal in the world.
- Orangs have only a few predators,
which include humans and leopards.
- The long call is longer than any other animals call in the world.
- Monkeys have tails but
orangs, like other great apes, do not.
- Orangs walk on the sides of their feet not on the soles.
|Orangs are active only during the day.
Orangs builds a new sleeping nest every night.
They are very intelligent and use found objects to do things:
like they use a leaf as an umbrella.
The orangutan may spend its entire day searching for food.
Orangs move slowly through trees.
They almost never swing from tree to tree.|
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Permission to use photographs
of orangutans is granted under the terms of the GNU
Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.
of orangutan, plums, and map of Borneo from "Microsoft
Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1>
February, 2006. Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial